Friday, January 22, 2016

Her Story

This is what I've been waiting for, this is what I want to see more of:

Trans movies and shows made by trans people with a trans (and queer/lesbian) audience in mind.

Her Story explores the dating lives of trans women for queer women, queer women for trans women, and how through this intersection, they reach to an even closer understanding of their identities as trans and/or lesbian women. The beauty of this series - my goodness, there are many, starting with...

The reality of what it can be like for a trans woman to identify as lesbian and date in the lesbian community. 

Starting with the sad fact of the matter is: lesbian trans women are all too often excluded and aren't welcomed in the lesbian community, especially when it comes to dating. There's a lot of transphobia. For many, it boils down to that woman having a penis: does having her penis make her less of a woman? Does it make that lesbian less of a lesbian by being sexually and physically attracted to her? And what about self-acceptance: when that trans woman feels a shame with identifying as lesbian. In a world where for some reason, people (by default) think of a trans woman's sexuality as only straight/being attracted to only men, and never as bisexual, pansexual, or lesbian, it can really make someone feel out of place, where they can't win in either community where they're trying to belong.

Her Story explores this so realistically that honestly, it might bring a tear to your eye if you can personally relate or you have personally experienced this as a trans person. I could sure relate to it as an intersex and trans person. The realism of this was so absolutely true to life, in every single way.

To live stealth or to not live stealth?

This series explores that as well, in ways that's again - so realistic, so on point. When many of us trans people date, it should be simple, but it's not so simple. To live stealth or to not live stealth could be a deal breaker. It could start or end a potential relationship. It could even mean life or death.

The quality over quantity. 

6 episodes, only 7-9 minutes each, the last episode only 11 minutes tops. Not a lot of time, but each episode says so much and explores a lot in such a short time span. That speaks volumes about the heart of this show: that with authenticity, less is more and quality is love, that love is the message. And very needless to say, the trans and queer cast are a phenomenal group of talented people. The cinematography of this is top-notch, it adds even more of a glow to an already glowing show. Even the music is on key with the brilliance of this groundbreaking series. Everything here is PERFECT.

That's Her Story. Without giving a spoiler away, what I loved most about this series was how it didn't make trans into this BIG DEAL. The way that this show faced transphobia was remarkably refreshing. The feelings, oh yaas. Nothing was preachy. Everything was human - the trans and cis/queer characters alike and all the storylines and perspectives, from all the character's POVs.

Her Story gives me hope for the future of TV, film, and media when nurtured by the hearts, minds, and hands of trans and queer women, and also of how what a difference it makes when a trans story is told from the perspective of actual trans people, for trans people. The difference matters. It's powerful. For far too long, there has been that void, and finally, here it is: that void gone, filled.

The whole entire season is free and it deserves all the support in the world:
Watched the show? Let's talk about it!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

LGBT Film Review: Mr. Angel


Shot over six years, Mr. Angel chronicles the extraordinary life of transgender advocate, educator and porn pioneer Buck Angel. Buck has survived addiction, homelessness, suicide and relentless opposition to his gender expression. Still, he lives his truth without compromise or apology. This feature-length documentary explores Buck's moving story to understand the complexities of someone who has overcome incredible obstacles, then shamelessly sought the spotlight and its backlash to share his message of empowerment. An inspirational story of rare perseverance and an unlikely hero.

My Review:

There aren't a lot of people in the sex industry who have truly pushed audience's perception of what it is to be a trans-male porn star. In fact, Buck Angel is the first to have done it. His mission was more than changing the porn industry, but reaching out to an audience of people - trans people and cis people alike - and educating them on the power of being yourself, with being comfortable in the skin you're in and with your body, and owning it. This documentary is about that - not only about his transition and his "man with a pussy" persona, but about his transitioning from being that porn star to a sex educator and trans advocate.

The latter is not as easy as one may think - Buck's journey to being accepted as somebody to be taken seriously in regards to sex ed and trans advocacy is a pretty harrowing one. All because he did porn - and is shamelessly proud that he's a man with a vagina, without any apologies, because it's not his genitals that defines his gender, it is him that defines him, not anything or anyone else. In doing that, there's so much biting transphobia, harsh misunderstanding, unnecessary confusion, and typical hate towards him, but that doesn't stop Buck. The true beauty of this documentary is that we know the man who's not in his industry for himself, but for the trans community, especially for trans male youth who find guidance in him that they otherwise wouldn't find in anybody else. And the honesty here - it's true to the day in the life of Buck Angel and the men out there who are just like him. Buck also empowers trans men in making them feel that it's OKAY to be a trans man and to LOVE one's vagina as a trans man, which in turn makes them feel more comfortable with their gender identity, love lives, and sex lives. That's a life changer. Absolutely beautiful and incredibly touching. By being poignantly truthful about the trans male experience - from bottom surgery, HRT, struggling for family acceptance, and fighting to NOT be perceived as a "she-male," an "it", or a "freak" - Buck tells all from a place of confidence, fearlessness, and love.

** This is currently on Netflix **

There's A Starman Waiting In The Sky...

I've said this before, but I mean it every time -

Thank you.

So many people have emailed, private messaged, and phoned me this past week, expressing condolences since most know how much David Bowie meant to me. Many have said when they first heard the news, they thought of me. That touched me.

Thank you.

In David Bowie's passing, which rocked the world in such an impactful way that it's not so easy to heal and move on so quick and easily, I've not only bonded with so many people on here, but it seems like I've made some new friends and connections along the way. You know who you are.
Most of us didn't know David Bowie personally. We didn't have to. We live in a day and age where many people are so quick to shame those who're mourning for a beloved icon. They don't care about the artist, and yet for some reason, they care about those who're mourning, and want to be "cool" by being "different" by shaming them - us - for something as natural, and as human and beautiful, as having empathy and care for someone that they didn't know, but they loved. It's OKAY to still cry, to still feel grief and sadness for one man's death that wasn't so kind. But - what a dignified way he left this world, being able to have his privacy, to keep his illness a secret, and to live to see his first musical, the unique and wonderful Lazarus, and to see his last album, Blackstar, his farewell masterpiece, and knowing how successful both projects were before his impending death. He even thought and hoped that he could live for a few more months to see a Blackstar follow up, but unfortunately, he didn't. But how inspiring, how courageous, that he believed that he could make it, to live to see through to that vision. Now, he's at peace, and I'd like to think he's even more at peace because of this. Through the pain, we can heal, and it's his music, the countless number of insightful and heartwarming interviews from his friends and colleagues, and us just being kinder and nicer to one another, that will make us not only feel better, but be better.

Thank you all for making that easier.

Any of you can message me anytime to talk about Bowie, and naturally, throughout the upcoming days and weeks, I'll continue sharing my favorite Bowie interviews, music videos, songs, performances, and docs on my Facebook page, as time goes by.

David Bowie - we love you. Thank you for everything.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Planet Earth Is Blue

I never would have thought that this would be something I'd blog about this year...

David Bowie, at 69, two days after his birthday and the release of Blackstar, he passed away from his secretive 18-month battle with cancer.

Last night, before the news broke out internationally, I was on one of my favorite David Bowie fan pages and it was shared on there about a tribute concert for him at Carnegie Hall (just a fund raising event, total coincidence that they'd announce it on the same day of his passing), and we were joking about how they're making it sound like he died. Then, I checked David Bowie's official page, just to see if there's anything new. And that was when the news broke:

My heart skipped and raced at the same time when I was doubtful of this. I wasn't alone. We all truly thought it was a hoax, that his page was hacked. We believed that, and that there was no way that this could be true because after all, he just celebrated his birthday and a new album. Then, it all started crashing down. It hit me that this was real when his son announced it on Twitter. 

I'm still just...shocked. None of us knew what he went through, about this cancer battle. This is the closest kept celebrity secret we've ever seen which makes this blow the most crushing and the hardest. It would still hurt even if we did know, but damn. This stings. Now that Carnegie Hall tribute concert/fund raiser will be a memorial event in honor of him. on all levels of wow.

As I was sitting there all numb about this, I was back at Lazarus again.

And now, the whole musical really makes sense now.

Of all the scenes, I'm remembering most clearly the last scene (not the scenes posted above), where Thomas Newton with his angel of death after swimming in a pool of milk after that angel's death, they hold on tight inside a tape-outline of a spaceship and sing "Heroes" before that ship is taken to the sky. Fuck. David knew. Now we know.

I'm beside myself. I'm gutted. I'm floored. Shocked. Hurt. What a crushing blow...

NOBODY saw this coming, except him. Blackstar very clearly now was his way of saying goodbye.

From "Blackstar":

"Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)."

"Something happened on the day he died..."

Planet Earth's blue, indeed, and the stars are very different today.

From "Lazarus" that's chillingly the words of a man who's dying, but wants to die his way:

"Look up here, I'm in heaven
I've got scars that can't be seen
I've got drama, can't be stolen
Everybody knows me now."

"Look up here, man, I'm in danger
I've got nothing left to lose."

"This way or no way
You know I'll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now, ain't that just like me?"

And that he did. 
From "Dollar Days" where he tells us this point-blank:

"It’s all gone wrong but on and on
The bitter nerve ends never end
I’m falling down
Don’t believe for just one second I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying to"

We'll not for one second forget you either, David Bowie. 

We're still on this Earth, but with you gone, we're dying too.

And lastly, to "I Can't Give Everything Away" where so poignantly, as he did with the other swansongs, he's admitting that he can't give everything away. That "everything" is his cancer battle.

"I know something is very wrong..."

"Seeing more and feeling less
Saying no but meaning yes
This is all I ever meant
That's the message that I sent

I can't give everything
I can't give everything
I can't give everything

I was also laughing and crying all at once over how on my way to the library day of his passing, I was driving through a storm listening to Blackstar, just really deep into it, and the weather made the album extra-emotional somehow. Then on the drive back home, the rain stopped. There was a giant rainbow that was almost blinding honestly. I was like "This is the most brightest colorful rainbow I've ever seen." Full bloom and everything, and I was on the last track: "I Can't Give Everything Away."

Stupid story that means nothing, but maybe it means something too.

It's coincidental yet eerie that David Bowie was born day before my birthday (Jan. 8th) and he left this Earth after my birthday (Jan. 10th). Means nothing and yet it means everything. "Planet Earth is blue" and "the stars are very different today," but "just like that bluebird," our spaceman is free.

Through all this pain that so many people all over the world are feeling, I have solace in knowing that this man left us in true Bowie fashion, doing it his way. Blackstar really was his way of letting us know that it's his time, and he'll be free. Now we know. He is free now, and it's hard to let him go.

"Where the fuck did Monday go?"

We lost an icon, but one woman lost a husband, a son and daughter lost their father.

My heart is crushed for them most of all, for Iman, Lexi, and Duncan.

This is not easy for me guys, as it isn't for anyone who loved him. As most of you know, I have many heroes, but #1 for me, equally, are David Bowie and Björk who taught me since the moment I first saw them, listened to their music, and gotten to know them, that just like them, I can just be myself too and be loved just the same. This is such a crushing blow.

I'll never forget him.

Of all people in this world, you'll be Resting In Power, David Bowie.

We love you, David Jones.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Trans Tropes We Need To Retire Not Only In 2016, But Ever Onward

This title and this post was inspired by a BuzzFeed article written by BuzzFeed news reporter, Meredith Talsusan, that I absolutely loved. This article was on point about everything. It's about time we're having this discussion on why these trans tropes aren't only counterproductive, but so tired.

I concur with all the points made, they are all pretty disgusting really, but I feel especially strong about:

#3 - Casting cis actor to play lead trans role while casting trans actor to play a wee-small role. 

It's not enough just to hire trans people in a small role that nobody even cares about while the cis actor is the one that plays the trans person in a bigger role. There are so many talented trans actors and actresses that can't get hired in cis roles, but not in trans roles either, but when they do, it's only a small cameo? It's just not right.

And to make more clear: I'm not saying cis people can't or shouldn't play trans roles. That doesn't bother me as much. Many trans people feel very strongly about that though, but I have more issue with seeing trans people struggling to find work. Cis roles or trans roles, I want to see more trans actors being hired in general, as equally and regularly as cis actors.

#4 - Having it where a trans person's life mission is for a cis person to fall in love with them. 

I never understood this one. While movies like Tangerine for instance are otherwise AMAZING (it's one of my favorites!), the plot is about a trans woman chasing after her cis lover with the desperate hope that he still loves her. Most trans romances are latched onto that trope, and that saddens me.

Trans lives don't hinge on our gender identity nor does it hinge on wanting/needing a cis person to fall in love with us. I'd love to see more stories of trans people falling in love with each other!

#8 - All love for trans women, no love for the trans men, and no visibility for the gender non-conforming/non-binary trans people of the world. 

Now don't get me wrong about this one: I'm happy for all the trans visibility of trans women, but what about the trans men? And what about trans people like me who do NOT want to be cis-normative, who are non-conforming and non-binary? There's more to trans than just MtF and FtM. There are so many trans identities that are being ignored, even within the trans community.

I won't even get started how us intersex folks are the most ignored and erased.

ALL of these tropes on this BuzzFeed article are pretty terrible, extremely annoying, and by now, they have been done to death. My main hope for the future is seeing more trans stories acted or told through the perspective of trans people. Like these films. Yes, they all have these trans tropes and two of them are used as examples in this BuzzFeed article, but they give us a glimpse of the possibilities that more trans people will be hired to play trans roles, and that one day, we'll have less or none of these tropes and more of letting characters be free from them. For now, this is a start:

The more, the merrier, and the less that we'll be seeing these tropes that really do need to stop hopefully soon and not later. Another hope of mine: more POSITIVE stories of the trans experience.

Not that I don't have many more hopes, I'm not even scratching the surface here!

Maybe I need to turn this into a slogan: HOPES, NOT TROPES!

I'd love to hear yours: How do you feel about these trans tropes? 

What would you like to see explored in trans literature and trans film? 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

LGBT Film Review: I've Heard The Mermaids Singing


In an upscale art gallery, Polly hangs a piece of art she mistakenly credits to her boss, Gabrielle, but it was actually created by Gabrielle's lover

My Review:

This whimsical film may be a bit of an "oldie" these days, but it hasn't lost its charm and it's far from dated. What's still the heart of I've Heard The Mermaids Singing is the star: the wee bit eccentric, but oh so loveable and adorable Polly Vandersma. She's awkward, she's shy, and she's "organizationally impaired" with a child-like imagination that's truly, and kind of literally, out of this world. This movie takes us into Polly's world as she tries to figure out herself in the art world and in her "cute awareness"/romantic attraction to her strict and serious curator, Gabrielle. Polly is so out of touch with everything that like her art, her imagination takes her out of this time into another space (the dream sequences and cinematography for this are so marvelously evocative!), and from there into her photography. Polly is a very talented photographer, but because she feels inadequate and slightly insecure, she doesn't grasp just how talented she is, which same can be said for how she is when Mary, Gabrielle's ex-lover, comes into the picture (no pun intended there), and the plot thickens, challenging everyone.

The story is simple, but beautiful. There are only three primary characters, and they all stand out in their own way.  I've Heard the Mermaids Singing is for the most part a comedy, a very off-kilter one at that, but it has serious undertones that's as warm as it is  touching. Even if you've seen this classic Canadian indie film many, many times before, watching it again and you'll be reminded why it's still something special. And if you've never seen this before, watch it now and you'll see why that is.

** This is currently on Netflix **

Friday, January 8, 2016

Blackstar: The Album

Released on David Bowie's 69th birthday is what is the first great album of 2016, the one and only...

Blackstar isn't David Bowie's "weirdest album ever" like it was first slated (or rumored) as being, but this is one hell of a spectacular, marvelous, breathtaking, and haunting futuristic jazz metal of a record. It's simply divine and sublime, a total knock-out. It's artful and experimental, yet immediate. Instantly, it all makes sense, and it's all so beautiful. Our spaceman is still ahead of the universe.

My favorite tracks are:

Girl Loves Me
I Can't Give Everything Away

If there's only one downside to Blackstar is that let's face it, it's a glorified EP. 2 of the songs are songs we've heard before, just re-done. So essentially, we have a new album with only 5 new songs on it. But truly, what a marvel all of them are. And the album packaging? Absolutely fucking gorgeous, spell-binding and hypnotizing, pulling us in as we try and decipher all the black writing on the black wall, almost unsure of where to start. Like the man himself and his music, it's a work of art. 

As are also the music videos for Blackstar:

What this record goes to show is that our quintessential give no fucks rock star is still king.

The King and the Starman

It's officially the birthday of two of the most iconic people in rock and roll history!



I hope David sees this. Isn't this adorable? What more could he ask for his 69th birthday?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lazarus: The Single

The day before David Bowie's birthday and the release of his new album, ★, is the release of the music video for "Lazarus." Isn't it so wonderfully creepy, spooky, and haunting?

The lyrics are definitely semi-autobiographical. David has been a New Yorker for soo many years now. He makes some reference to when he had no money (hard to imagine, but David was broke post-Ziggy), to "when he had drama that can't be stolen." But still, he was living like a king.

He is still the Chameleon King!

He's the quintessential "no fucks" rock star, even at 68-going-on-69. It's just like him ;).

David has made a career out of the all-or-nothing approach to making music. Continuously, he has NEVER rested on his laurels, but keeps on pushing boundaries and being experimental ever onward.

What I love most about this music video in particular is the attention to detail with the symbolism.

Right away, the outfit he's wearing near the end, it's just like the one from his Station to Station days!

Notice the book that he's writing on 2:53 minutes into the music video? And the skull at 3:38? That all makes reference to Blackstar, so there's continuity here. Watch the videos back-to-back.

Makes a lot more sense, doesn't it?

And pretty clearly, the song in general seems to be David mocking himself (his rock star persona) and reflecting on death, not being at all afraid of it, but looking forward to the freedom of being free.

Kind of cheeky that he would put himself back in the closet, lol. Only our David Bowie!

What are your thoughts on "Lazarus"?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

LGBT Film Review: Boy Meets Girl


Ricky, a young transgender woman, seeks romance with Francesca - but may also be falling for her best pal Robby.

My Review:

Boy Meets Girl was so adorable that I almost couldn't stand it. It gets everything right straight from the get-go: it establishes that Ricky is a trans woman, but despite living in the deep South, she's accepted by her best friend Robby and is adored and loved by her little brother. When Francesca meets Ricky, she, too, is immediately accepting of Ricky despite being republican and having a transphobic fiance who's serving in Afghanistan. What made me gush most of all was how when Francesca had her questions for Ricky, everything about how those two communicated was flirtatious, making Francesca's curiosity and intrusive questions absolutely sweet, innocent, and caring. Ricky has her questions and curiosities about what it's like to have sex with a woman and she too is equally adorable in questioning the possibilities of her sexuality and of what's outside her experience, of potentially falling in love with a woman. And then there's Robby who's the golden example of a gentleman who treats all women, trans women and cis women alike, equally.

The beauty of Boy Meets Girl is that it's a truly human story. None of these characters are perfect, but they are instantly likeable and relatable as they all explore and contemplate LGBT and straight sexuality, cisgender and transgender, and relationships. You can't help but love all the characters, not only for what makes them wonderful, but for also what makes them flawed. The acting may not be the most amazing that you'll ever see, but you forgive and forget that because of how genuine and honest they are, brimming with pure emotion. And you can't really take your eyes off of trans actress, Michelle Hendley, who was hired to play Ricky with little to no acting experience, and Michael Welch. The sex scenes between Ricky and Francsca and Ricky and Michael are tame, but still very much sexy, passionate, and beautiful. I was very impressed with how transphobia was handled here in such a way that I don't want to give away how they do it, but it was so right, such as this movie is.

Boy Meets Girl is another shining example of how credible and authentic a trans story is when it's acted through the perspective of an actual trans woman and how powerful it is when the story doesn't hinge on a character's gender identity, but focuses as much if not more on her heart - her wants, her needs, her desires, and her dreams. And there's a story here that's chock full of so many surprises that after the end, you crave for more. Boy Meets Girl is truly that special and moving. 

** This is currently on Netflix **

It's Time For A Change

Trans men are men.

Their gender does not have to be validated through surgery.

Unless that's something that they want/need to have their gender affirmed, nobody and nothing in this world should validate their gender for them.

It is time for a change.

Even in the athletic competition world, inclusivity matters and it needs to happen.

I hope one day, they'll get there!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Slay Jaden, Slay

There's a new model in a new Louis Vuitton ad campaign for women's wear, and that model is...

Jaden Smith!

This is not necessarily the biggest news of the century or anything that a male model is sporting "women's wear." It has been done before. Men donning "women's clothes" is nothing new. But...

Any time this happens on a more mainstream scale, it's a big deal. It matters.

Jaden Smith is my hero. By him doing this, it shines light on the existence of gender fluidity in men (even in black men, who knew, right?) and breaks down the gender binary by saying:

Clothes are just clothes and gendering them is stupid.

Plus isn't it cool that a "women's wear" ad also includes men? The inclusivity is killing me.

Slay Jaden, slay.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lazarus: The Set List

It's been about a week since I've seen Lazarus, and I've been getting a few emails/private messages about the set list.

This is what I can recall at the top of my head:

First song performed (by Michael C. Hall) was:

It's No Game (Part 1)

And from there onward, not in consecutive order, was:

Life on Mars?
Always Crashing in the Same Car
Sound & Vision
All the Young Dudes
Valentine's Day
Where Are We Now?
Love is Lost
Absolute Beginners
The Man Who Sold the World
This is Not America

** Two new songs not to be included in upcoming new album **

It ended with Heroes, a duet between Michael C. Hall and the lovely and powerhouse-songstress Sophia Anne Caruso.

I'm still basking in the glow of a unique and special musical by a man who's as unique and special. I was very lucky and privileged!

And some have also asked me if Lazarus will be extended:

It has been extended 3 times already! Originally it was only supposed to be around for 5 weeks, but because of popular demand, obviously, they extended.

Last day is Jan. 20th.

All shows have been sold out for months. I wish it could have been recorded (on film and audio), or that they would tour the musical, but it seems like Lazarus will only live on in the memories of those who have seen it live.

I hope this helps for those who're curious, xoxo.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

LGBT Film Review: Mala Mala


Nine members of Puerto Rico's transgender community share their stories and insights into the island's diverse trans culture.

My Review:

Not too many films explore Puerto Rico's trans community. Mala Mala may not be the first, but it's the one of few, showcasing the perspective of nine individuals, and they are Jason Carrión (who many know as April Carrion from S6 of RuPaul's Drag Race), Samantha Close, Ivana Fred, Queen Bee Ho, Paxx Moll, Alberic Prados, Denise 'Sandy' Rivera, Soraya Santiango Solla, and Sophia Voines. It's through them and their unique voices and stories that we get a glimpse of what it's like being trans (FtM, MtF, and genderless/agender) in Puerto Rico. Obviously, not even 9 stories can represent that of EVERY trans person in Puerto Rico, but the film does a great job at letting them give us a slice of their lives, some that are more troubled than others, but for the most part, there's optimism and hope behind the struggles. This documentary is beautifully shot, the music is gorgeous, and every person's personality here shines. The structure is pretty loose, which gives the documentary its spontaneity, but then at times it feels like it would have been better if it was more focused. And I also couldn't help but feel that the documentary didn't really quite explore the Puerto Rican trans community more in depth. There was too much focus on the surface, a little too much emphasis on physical beauty/"passing" than at the heart of being trans, which goes deeper than physical appearances and clothes. Despite some of those shortcomings, it's well made up for with its stellar cast of truly wonderful individuals and for also including the first historic victory of its kind, the approval and signing of Law 238-2014, which prevents discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. With that spirit, this documentary doesn't aim to be perfect, but commanding, which it certainly is from start to finish. Mala Mala is electrifying, honest, and beautiful in affirming that quest of what being trans is all about: being yourself.

** This is currently on Netflix **

Some Like It Hot: Hotter In Color!

Some Like It Hot is not only one of my most favorite Marilyn Monroe movies, but one of my most favorite comedy films of all time.

It was so progressive. With the passing of time, Some Like It Hot becomes even more timeless.

Queerty shared these pictures of Some Like It Hot like we've never seen it before. In color!

These photos really bring us back there. It somehow humanizes a classic, doesn't it?

Legs and glamour for days!

And so much adorable that it's sicknin'.

In color or in black and white, like diamonds Some Like It Hot is forever! Esp. because of this scene: